April 17, 2001
Supervisor Runion, Members of the Council, Ladies & Gentlemen:
Thank you for letting me speak tonight
My name is Candace Lider and I live near the Dicaprio Farm.
First, I want to thank the Town of Guilderland for their foresight in purchasing this beautiful property for the enjoyment of the residents of the Town. It is not every day that a Town Government perceives the need for open space, and acts on that need. The Dicaprio Farm purchase can only bring good things to the Town.
Next, I want to thank the Dicaprio family for its generosity to the residents of the Town. Certainly, they would have been able to sell their farm to a developer for more money, but it is obvious that they love their land, and wanted to have others enjoy it too. The farm is a beautiful property. The Dicaprios should be congratulated for selling their land to the Town.
The Dicaprio Farm is located in the Pine Bush. Our Pine Bush, here in Guilderland, is a globally rare ecosystem. The Pine Bush has been called the best example of an inlands pine barrens ecosystem in the United States. It is the home of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly, as well as other rare and interesting species.
The Pine Bush is used for research by students at the University at Albany, as well as by students at Farnsworth Middle School. Thousands of people a year visit the Pine Bush to hike, walk, mountain bike, cross-country ski, and enjoy nature. The Pine Bush is in trouble. 90% of the Pine Bush has been destroyed by developments. The Karner Blue Butterfly populations have declined from millions in the 1940s to tens of thousands in the 1970s to hundreds today. When listing the Karner Blue as an endangered species, the US Fish and Wildlife Service cited habitat loss and habitat fragmentation as two reasons why the butterflies are in trouble.
For the Pine Bush to survive, large, non-fragmented areas are needed. The Pine Bush is crisscrossed with roads, such as the Thruway, Route 155, Lydius Street, and Siver Road, to name a few. Studies of ecosystem bio-diversity show that roads cause fragmentation of ecosystems. Maintaining the bio-diversity of the Pine Bush is extremely important to the survival of the Pine Bush.
The DiCaprio Farm is located in what the Pine Bush Commission has designated as area 33. Area 33 consists of three properties, the DiCapiro Farm, and the Lupe and Trulango parcels, in total around 300 acres. It is one of the largest roadless areas remaining in the Pine Bush. The DiCaprio Farm is adjacent on its eastern border with land that is currently in the Pine Bush Preserve. The DiCaprio Farm is an important part of this roadless area. It should be preserved as Pine Bush, and not made into soccer fields.
Children need a place to play soccer. But, they also need a place to play in the woods and learn about nature. The Pine Bush is only found here. Soccer fields can be built lots of places besides the Pine Bush.
I know the Town Board may be nervous about spending money to buy land just to preserve it. But, preserving this land will improve the quality of life for the residents of Guilderland. Preserving this land will generate no traffic. It will not require any water or sewer lines or any Town services. It would be completely taken care of by the Albany Pine Bush Commission. I believe the majority of the residents of the Town would like to see this land preserved.
We want to work with the Town. We want to work with the Town to find a solution. We know that the Town needs to build soccer fields. We want to work with the Town to add the DiCaprio Farm to the Pine Bush preserve and to work with the Town to find a better location for the soccer fields. And when we are done, I would like to see the farm named “The DiCaprio Grove” to honor the generosity of the DiCaprio family.